I take the brooch out of the small handmade box and pin it onto my dress as I’ve done for the past week.
“You can test it out”, Emily said to me as we sat on the deck outside her house, six feet apart, sipping an iced tea spritzer with Elderberry syrup, “wear it for a month and make sure it’s sturdy enough to sell.”
The brooch, a collage made from thick paper, paint (and I don’t know what else) and coated many times with a hardening medium, was in a wooden box with five or six others. There were a few birds and women’s portraits, Emily’s version of a cameo.
But only the Flower brooch sat in a small box that Emily had made specifically for it.
A place to put it when it wasn’t being worn. The brooch was functional art when being worn and became a small three-dimensional sculpture when it wasn’t.
I had seen the brooches during one of our video chats as I had lots of Emily’s work and she mine. We’ve been doing video studio chats once a week since the pandemic began. We show each other the work we made that week. We talk about it and any new ideas for the coming week.
That exchange of ideas has become important to me and I believe to Emily too. So when she invited me to her house last Monday I was eager to go. Eager to sit and talk face to face, to see her work in person.
I felt like Emily’s invitation was special, an act of friendship. Like she was opening up another part of her life up to me.
As we sat in the shade of the umbrella, Emily’s daughter coloring with focused attention next to her, chickens pecking around below us, I thought there something playful, about the Flower brooch.
It made me think of paper dolls and their paper doll dresses and houses. It made me think of the matchbox I made into a bed for an acorn I rescued out of the pool when I was a kid. (I would put the acorn to bed each night, its cap on a pillow, the small green nut, covered with a blanket both made from a tissue).
I liked the idea of putting the brooch safely in its box at night. And I liked the way it felt in my hand, light, but sturdy. I studied the tiny shapes, marks colors, and textures that made up this small wearable collage.
Then I dropped it. It rolled off the table bounced on the bench and onto the floor.
“Well,” I joked,” if it can survive me, it can survive anyone.”
Since then I’ve worn it every day. Working in my studio, doing farm chores, walking in the woods, doing yoga or whatever else that comes along.
So far it looks as good as it did last Monday when Emily gave it to me. I’ll continue the experiment and let you know if Emily decides to sell her brooches at the end of it.